Winnie: I sat with Madiba until he drew his last breath
NELSON Mandela's former wife has described how she watched as the heartbeat and blood pressure readings on his life-support machine slowly dropped off as he died.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (77) sat at the former South African president's side for three-and-a-half hours until he finally drew his last breath, she said in an interview with Britain's ITN.
"I received a call in the morning and I was told. . . there were difficulties about Tata," she said, referring to Mr Mandela, pictured, by his Xhosa name, which means "Father".
When she arrived at Mr Mandela's house, other relatives told her to go upstairs, to where doctors were gathered around him.
"I sat there for three-and-a-half hours, watching that machine. . .I watched those figures going down and down so slowly," she said.
After Mr Mandela's readings dropped further still, she knew his last moments were imminent, she said. "Then he drew his last breath and just rested ... He was gone."
Ms Madikizela-Mandela split from her husband within two years of his release from prison in 1990. South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission later heard that she had headed a vigilante gang that in 1988 carried out the abduction and murder of alleged police informants and traitors to her husband's cause.
Ms Madikizela-Mandela, has denied the accusations. (© Daily Telegraph, London)